'Return to Sender' at SAC - 27 East

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‘Return to Sender’ at SAC

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An image from Mara Ahmed’s film “Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & The Politics of Representation.” The film screens November 19 at Southampton Arts Center. COURTESY SAC

An image from Mara Ahmed’s film “Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & The Politics of Representation.” The film screens November 19 at Southampton Arts Center. COURTESY SAC

authorStaff Writer on Nov 10, 2023

On Sunday, November 19, at 2 p.m., the Southampton Arts Center presents a screening of Mara Ahmed’s “Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation.”

This film pushes the documentary medium in unexpected ways by opening with three contemporary South Asian American women who recreate British colonial postcards from the early 20th century. Dressed in lavish traditional attire and jewelry and shot exquisitely in a darkened studio, the women emulate the awkward poses of the postcard women, only to subvert the colonial male gaze and acquire autonomy by choosing an action of their own. This symbolic “returning” of the Orientalist gaze is layered with discussions about Eurocentric beauty standards, representations of South Asian women in media and culture, stereotypes, othering, identity and belonging. The film hopes to create community by facilitating conversations about erasure and the politics of representation.

The post-screening panelists include fine art photographer Jeremy Dennis, the founder of Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio; Minerva Perez, executive director of Organizacion Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island; and Brenda Simmons, executive director and founder of Southampton African American Museum. They will be in conversation with filmmaker Mara Ahmed.

Southampton Arts Center is at 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton. Visit southamptonartscenter.org for details.

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